We asked some of our gorgeous blogger gals to publicly nominate their role models, and hopefully encourage others to nominate www.modelledbyrolemodels.com
When Panache asked me to write about one of my role models it got me thinking about who we (and particularly young women) are encouraged to look up to, and what we seem to value in women.
With so many incredible women in the world doing brave, life changing, awe inspiring things, why do we seem to constantly be pushed the idea that the women to emulate are the ones born with what society (in that moment) dictates is beauty. The women with flat tummies, full perky breasts, long lashes and a shapely bottom. These are not talents. This is just a winning ticket in the genetic, aesthetic lottery.
But what Panache want to do is honour women for their achievements. This is not something traditional media spend a lot of time doing. But despite how little it may be discussed, the fact is women are making change and cutting new paths all the time. To be honest I was spoiled for choice! So many incredible women to choose from.
But I settled on Ruby Wax. Ah, Ruby! An eccentric television personality prolific in the 90s, she is most well known for her interviews with celebrities including Pamela Anderson, Goldie Hawn and the Duchess of York. She was brash, mouthy and played up the stereotypical American – crude, hilarious (Um, who said women can’t be funny?) and loud! Never scared to ask the question on everyone’s minds. But despite being a total hoot, a brilliant writer and a powerhouse of television and theatre, that’s not why she’s my role model.
Ruby has spent years openly talking about her personal struggles with with depression, and trying to break down the stigma associated with experiencing mental health problems.
Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are incredibly isolating. I know – I struggle with both these conditions. Much of the reason they are so isolating is because mental health is not something that’s openly discussed in our society. It’s something often misunderstood, brushed under the carpet or mentioned with hesitance and shame.
In my early twenties, when I experienced my first bout of depression I also experienced a new kind of loneliness. I didnt know who to talk to about how I was feeling, or how to explain it to them. I trawled the Internet for answers, and for stories like my own. I came across Ruby – speaking openly about what depression had been like for her, and how not talking about it made it so much worse. I remember being awed that someone as vital and alive as Ruby could be struggling with something as deafening as depression. And then I realised this was something many people would be suprised to know about me too.
It changed a lot for me. I realised that having this illness did not take away my strength and my fire. And that I too could be open about it. I could explain my experiences to those who asked. I could talk about it without shame. After all, 1 in 4 people experience mental illness. 1 in 4!
And while I’m doing my own little bit in my corner of the world, Ruby is campaigning her ass off! She has done a series about mental illness for the BBC, written a one woman play about it, two books and works with the leading mental health charity Mind, and Time To Change – a campaign to end mental health stigma.
By being brave enough to talk about her experiences she has offered comfort and support to many, as well as encouraging others like me to do the same. She is changing the world for the better – hoping that one day mental health might be regarded with the same importance as physical health. If that’s not role model material, I don’t know what is!
If you think you are suffering from a mental health problem contact you GP. If it is an emergency or you’d just like someone to talk to the Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at firstname.lastname@example.org.